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November 24, 2009

Singin’ in the pain

Filed under: pop culture,Psychology,Treats — posted by Rose @ 2:02 pm

Ah, breakup songs. They’re so often set on infinite repeat in our souls. So you oughta know: are they unhealthy in their forwarding of a pro-wallow agenda?

Not necessarily so, says Thao Nguyen — she of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down (a personal fave band o’mine, although better known for the sort of “something with shouting and hand claps in the chorus” songs which Nguyen identifies here as totally not breakup-friendly).  In this nice commentary in Bitch Magazine, Nguyen celebrates the therapeutic salve of a deeply felt, fully embraced breakup song. And she’s got an I’m-OK-you’re-OK take on the importance of the dirge for the recently dumped:

“It is the sauna where all your emotions gather after work and sit and talk shit or breathe deeply and with each action make themselves hotter and sweatier until there is such frenzied perspiration you are crying on the outside, probably alone in your car. The breakup song serves a very specific role in the triage of heartbreak. I’m not saying it’s healthy to delve and wallow — but I am saying everyone I know does it, so let us honor the sad, slow breakup song for the fucked-up and necessary friend it is.”

Breakup bonus: Included at essay’s end is Nguyen’s personally curated track list for the all-time heartbreak catalog. Comment or add your own here!


  1. OK, this is the opposite of dirge, but I can NOT feel sad when I hear Cab Calloway’s Everybody Eats When They Come To My House. Have a tomato, Plato!

    Comment by Breakup Girl — November 24, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

  2. Her list was good, but these two songs are at the top of my playlist on my “Breakup Playlist” on my iPod:
    F**k You and Your Cat – Goldfinger
    Friends in Low Places – Garth Brooks

    The last time I was dumped and felt like it was the end of the world, it was these two songs on my LastFM player that gave me the little boost I needed to get out of the wallowing phase. Songs like this are just as important as the slow breakup song (without the need for the disco classic, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor)!

    Comment by Allie — November 24, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

  3. the Cake version of I Will Survive.

    Comment by Breakup Girl — November 24, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  4. One from the obscure stack: “Salt in my Tears” by Martin Briley. It was a top 40 hit in 1983, but I’m not sure anyone’s heard it since then, which is a damn shame.

    Comment by Fawn — November 25, 2009 @ 1:38 am

  5. Show of hands: how many people have a permanent Breakup Playlist?
    Now I’m going to go track down Salt in My Tears. SPeaking of which, let’s not forget
    I’ve Got Tears In My Ears (From Lyin’ On My Back In My Bed While I Cry Over You).

    Comment by BG — November 25, 2009 @ 10:41 am

  6. @Fawn Oh! Now I remember that song! Good call.

    Comment by BG — November 25, 2009 @ 10:43 am

  7. …the fact that “tears” rhymes with “beers” reassures one that all is right with the universe.

    Comment by BG — November 25, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  8. “I’ll sit around and drink a few more beers
    Until the memory just disappears”

    Such a great couplet!

    Comment by Fawn — November 25, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

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